When the Catalans Dragons and Wakefield Trinity met in the third round of the Challenge Cup three weeks ago it was a comfortable victory for the French side as they ran out as 26-6 winners to make progress and line up a quarter final tie against the Warrington Wolves next weekend.
Coach McNamara made several changes to his victorious cup side with McIlorum and Seguir in the starting line-up and Joel Tomkins and Jordan Dezaria on the bench. Wakefield had loanees Olly Ashall-Bott (Giants) and Josh Eaves (Saints) in their seventeen and making debut as they suffered a temporary injury crisis.
Trinity can’t get a win anywhere and you get the feeling that if they were handed one, they’d probably drop it, while the Dragons slipped up against Warrington last week to tarnish their unbeaten record in 2021. The bookies strongly fancied a Dragons win with Wakefield being given an eight-point start on the coupon.
After a tackle on Sam Tomkins was penalised, Catalans moved the ball downfield and Tom Davies was first to score as he took a pass and dove over in the corner to give the Dragons a 4-0 lead. James Maloney couldn’t add the goal from wide, but it wasn’t the ideal start for Chris Chester’s men.
It was a sensational debut for Olly Ashall-Bott as he stepped off both feet and fended off the tackle for a great try. Mason Lino added the conversion to give Trinity the lead.
Mike McMeeken pushed the defender out of the way as he jumped to take a Maloney high kick and go over for the second Dragons try of the evening. Maloney kicked the conversion for 10-6 after just over twenty had been played.
Within a couple of minutes Tom Davies was over again in the corner after fast hands gave him an overlap on the short side and a miss-out pass from Sam Tomkins went to hand. Maloney converted from the touchline for 16-6, the Dragons starting to control the game.
Wakefield didn’t throw the towel in and it was the makeshift stand-off Max Jowitt who collected his own kick through and went over for the second Trinity try. Lino added the conversion and the gap was down to just four points.
Just four minutes from the interval the Dragons were in again down the right as Dean Whare was on hand to complete the move and get the four pointer. Maloney couldn’t kick the conversion, the Dragons 20-12 ahead at the interval.
Ben Garcia and Jordan Dezaria both got an early second half talking to for a tip tackle on Bill Tupou as Trinity had the upper hand in the opening exchanges. Within a minute Reece Lyne bust through the Dragons line and went in for a try. Lino added the conversion, the Dragons lead down to two points.
Wakefield did brilliantly to deny Jason Baitieri as he went for the line and on the next play Jowitt picked up the grubber kick through. It was a massive defensive effort from Trinity.
Liam Kay had a try ruled out for a forward pass on sixty-four, the Dragons breathed a sigh of relief.
Trinity hearts were broken on sixty-eight as the Dragons kept the ball alive and McMeeken passed off the floor to Whare for his second of the night. Maloney added the conversion for 26-18, Trinity now looking down the barrel of another loss.
Tom Davies completed his hat-trick with three minutes remaining to put the win beyond any doubt and when Maloney added the conversion from the touchline.
Ninety seconds from time Samisoni Langi won the race to ground a kick through. Maloney was again accurate with the boot for a big 38-18 win.
The Dragons got back on the bike after last weeks loss and they keep the pressure on the sides above them but some credit is due to the Trinity players who gave their all and were in the game for sixty minutes and they were the better side on the opening exchanges in the second half. Chris Chester will be wondering where the win will come from, and when.
Wakefield Trinity: Ashall-Bott (T), Kershaw, Lyne (T), Tupou, Kay, Jowitt (T), Lino (3G), Green, Wood K, Tanginoa, Batchelor, Pitts, Westerman. Subs: Fifita, Battye, Arona, Eaves.
Catalans Dragons: Tomkins S, Yaha, Langi (T), Whare (2T), Davies (3T), Drinkwater, Maloney (5G), Bousquet, McIlorum, Dudson, Seguir, McMeeken (T), Garcia. Subs: Morgue, Tomkins J, Baitieri, Dezaria.
Referee: Chris Kendall.
Score Progression: 0-4, 4-4, 6-4, 6-8, 6-10, 6-14, 6-16, 10-16, 12-16, 12-20 : HT : 16-20, 18-20, 18-24, 18-26, 18-30, 18-32, 18-36, 18-38 : FT.